The Advantages of Small Ship Cruising
What inspires you to travel? Is it adventure, culture, food, relaxation, interaction with the local communities, peace, or all of the above? A small ship cruise is about all of these vacation goals and delivers them on a personal level, with no queues to stand in for buffets, no long lines to embark or disembark, simply no waiting and, therefore, less stress.
Imagine this: a straw hat on your head, sunglasses shading your eyes, a gauzy flowy summer chemise blowing in the breeze, a drink in your hand and your feet resting on the lounge chair as you gaze to the shoreline, taking in the charming harbor coming into view. You realize with a start that soon you’ll be strolling ashore, ready to tackle the day to discover what lies ahead. This is small ship cruising!
What exactly qualifies as a small ship? Typically, a small ship is considered one that has fewer than 500 guests. (Some lines consider their ship small if it’s under 1500 guests, which doesn’t seem so small at all). In the case of the small ships in the Scenic group portfolio, Scenic Eclipse is 228 guests or less, while the recently announced Emerald Azzurra will welcome just 100 guests. With more space per guest, these two beauties will attain unmatched comfort and luxury for those that sail them.
A yacht or small ship is a more intimate experience, both on board and on shore. Public spaces are laid out in such a way that you never feel crowded or closed in by other guests. You almost have the feeling of being in a guest house, with relaxed, comfortable lounges and inviting outdoor spaces with plenty of room for everyone. When you ask what makes or breaks a cruising experience, it’s the crew that go out of their way to make a connection and to ensure that you have the best trip possible. You’ll become well acquainted with the staff and crew. They’ll know your name, remember which table you prefer, whether you prefer an intimate dinner at a table for two or if you’re more likely to join those new friends you just made. They’ll know which drink you prefer when sitting on a lounge chair overlooking the sea and which one you prefer pre-dinner in the cozy lounge. Your travel partner prefers his coffee black and cappuccino is your choice – they’ll know! You’ll always feel like you are their number one priority. You’ll leave your small ship feeling that you’ve made new friends, not only with the other guests but also with those staff members who delivered your trip of a lifetime.
The destinations are unique with small ship or yacht cruises. They can enter pristine harbors where larger boats cannot, and will not, as these larger ships will overwhelm the location and have to shuttle their guests by tender to shore. For the lucky few on a really small ship, you’ll be able to not only visit the bookend must-sees, like London, Dubrovnik, Barcelona, Lisbon, Athens, and Venice, for example, but you’ll also be able to put down anchor and perhaps even swim off the back of your vessel onto a remarkable beach like you’ve never seen before, most notably lacking in visitors. Or perhaps you’ll take a zodiac for a short trip to shore, only because the harbor that you’ve pulled into doesn’t have substantial docking facilities. Whatever you do on a small ship, the smaller the better, you’ll never have long lines, you’ll be free to leisurely embark and disembark.
With a small ship you can have everything included or opt for a line that gives you choices to tailor your adventure. If you want discovery, opt for a line with fewer inclusions, to make the experience uniquely your own. Take a bike and go off the beaten path. Dive off the swim platform and be one with your surroundings. Walk alongside your guide, taking in the local points of interest and then branch off on our own, meandering until you find something that suits your fancy – perhaps a lunch at a local taverna, sip a glass of locally sourced wine, chatter with the purveyor of the local coffee shop to learn about their daily life. It’s all up to you how to spend your time.
If you prefer the surety of all-in-one pricing and are looking to up the adventure and discoveries, lines like Scenic Eclipse go above and beyond to include everything AND give you choice. Choose from a daily menu of excursions or simply choose to indulge in the onboard amenities, perhaps a day in the spa, or reading a book in the observation lounge. Feel like getting some exercise, check out the yoga lounge or take out a paddle board and go for a swim off the swim deck. Take a tour of the wheelhouse where the captain will be happy to answer your questions. As small expedition ships up the ante, look for bells and whistles like helicopters and submarines!
What’s for dinner you ask. Of course, food is always an important part of your vacation so be sure to read the reviews to see if your small ship fits your culinary style. Do you want multiple dining venues, which are usually only available on the bigger ships? The Scenic Eclipse is unique in that it has more space per guest than any other ship of its kind. Scenic Eclipse, while being a small ship, offers 10 dining venues, each with its own unique story. From Koko’s sushi and teppanyaki to Lumiere’s fine French cuisine, there is something to please every palate. On smaller yachts which tend to be slightly more relaxed, the options won’t be as plentiful but there will always be great food and choice at every meal.
Destination is always paramount and small ships offer many options, with many of the options off the beaten path. Whether it’s the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, the Adriatic, Yukon & Alaska or the Great White Wonders of the Arctic and Antarctic, you’re sure to find the next great adventure with a small ship cruise. So, what are you waiting for?! You surely won’t be disappointed and you surely will be looking for your next small ship adventure sooner than later!